Securing Water for Food

Securing Water for Food

Circular economy with blackwater and greywater recycling for cultivation of exotic vegetables by women Farmers Groups in India under Securing Water for Food (SWFF)


The economic condition in Nilgiris (India) depends on success and failure of horticulture crops. Climate change has resulted in limited water availability for four to six months a year. Excessive application of chemical fertilisers has resulted in declining soil fertility. Additionally, faecal sludge and solid waste in the area are poorly managed impacting the environment.

To change this negative cycle, women farmers in the Nilgiris buy and apply co-compost. This co-compost is produced by women self-help groups through mixing domestic organic waste with faecal sludge. The co-compost sites are owned by local governments. The women farmers, who are organised into Women Farmers Groups or Producer Groups, access the market directly by obtaining advance purchase orders by an agri-marketing company (LEAF) to procure crops grown by the farmers. This helps them to avoid working with middlemen.


Our goals:
The Securing Water for Food programme promotes science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water, and to make more water available for production, processing and distribution of food. The goal of this specific project is to establish a local circular economy model in sanitation for agriculture that is scalable and autonomous via the mobilisation of private finance and a market-linkage approach to advance green growth.


• Establishment of faecal sludge treatment sites in cooperation with women groups and local governments.
• Organisation of private faecal sludge collectors.
• Technical and business capacity building of women groups to operate co-compost production sites.
• Production, sales and marketing of co-compost with on-going monitoring and evaluation.
• Organisation of women farmers into Groups or Producer Groups.
• Development of business plans by women farmers, and linking them to Micro Finance Institutions.
• Obtainment of advance purchase orders and linkages to agri-marketing companies.

The programme aims to maximise sustainability through collaboration between public and private actors, including local governments, Women Farmers Groups or Producer Groups, agri-marketing company, Micro Finance Institutions and faecal sludge operators. This approach is essential to realise successful market-based Faecal Sludge Management and to make the business case of co-compost site viable.


Impact we made

Stakeholders and business 2250 farmers have adopted the innovation, impacting 11,250 people in the region

900 ha of land is affected by improved practices as a result of the innovation

40,500 m3/year of water has been reallocated for irrigation as a result of greywater recycling

WASTE and faecal sludge - WASTE 1,040 tonnes of co-compost has been produced

 Money and job creation - WASTE 85% of the farmers involved in the programme have been financed

 Money and job creation - WASTE 1.5 times of grant funding has been leveraged locally


Partners involved:
1. Businesses: A group of private faecal sludge collectors, women groups that operate the co-compost production sites
2. Demand: Women Farmers Groups and Companies
3. Governments: Ketti and Addigaratty Town Panchayats
4. Finance: Canara Bank (India), LEAF (India)
5. NGOs: RDO Trust (India) and Borda (Germany)

Funded by USAID, SIDA, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of South Africa